When the Honourable Nanaia Mahuta, Minister of Local Government, Foreign Affairs and
associate Minister of Māori Development makes her decision about how to restore order in Tauranga City Council she will need a waka-load of compassion.
For a start, there's Tenby Powell who, last week, resigned after 15 "soul-destroying" months as the city's mayor.
Powell had a 4000-vote majority when he claimed the mayoral chain and at the start he jubilantly said "the people have spoken, it's time for the old guard to let go". In spite of his military background, he didn't see the trenches until it was too late.
The old guard entrenched in the council chambers for generations were going nowhere, but it may be that they also need some of Nanaia's compassion.
After all, they are protecting their community - a Tauranga community which aims to defend the city from liberal invaders, like Powell or from Māori "riding the Treaty gravy train" or anyone else they see as different from themselves.
It's a tough job protecting such long-held Tauranga values but the council's old guard seem committed.
Defending and protecting the status quo must be especially hard when you are also being paid to efficiently govern the country's fastest-growing city.
Nanaia's compassion cannot fix the $2 billion shortfall in capital projects and over $33 million of ratepayers' money wasted through bad council decisions. She cannot fix the past but she can have compassion for all those Tauranga families affected by what has become a fiscal disaster.
I do not speak for tangata whenua of Tauranga Moana but as tangata whenua, and today I feel optimistic that she will also have compassion for us.
As a minority population in our own rohe and coming from three distinctive iwi, we have - through raupatu/confiscations and Public Works takings - inadvertently provided the lands upon which this city of more than 150,000 continues to grow.
To say we have been economically disadvantaged by the actions of Tauranga City Council would be an understatement.
One example from one of my hapū, Ngāi Te Ahi, was in 1965 when 40ha was taken for "the public good" to build a water plant. Four hectares was used for the plant, the remainder was sold by the council for profit.
Fast forward 55 years and we have our latest example, involving a 100m bus lane.
In August, while we were in Covid alert level 2, Tauranga City Council passed a bylaw to formalise the lane through the suburb of Hairini, home to our Ngāi Te Ahi marae and papakainga, effectively blocking off one end of the street.
The council had already installed a traffic camera so after two months started fining all traffic, $150 a pop, apart from buses. It said it was a safety issue, but it has also become a tidy source of passive income generation.
Two years before - prior to Powell's arrival - and after the road had already been blocked and the bus lane set up ready to trial, a single public meeting was held. Locals were angry and shocked.
At the meeting, TCC transport manager, Martin Parkes admitted: "Normally we'd go through a lengthy consultation process. But there was an opportunity and in the transport world, when these opportunities come up, sometimes you've got to take them."
Transport manager John McCarthy offered: "If you don't like it, move out of Tauranga." While he acknowledged after the meeting it was a "flippant comment", that was the consultation process in action.
Badly planned roading has plagued us for years. State Highway 29 separates us from our urupā and half of our whānau.
Although the council says the Hairini Bus Lane is a done deal, we, the people, Māori and non-Māori, disagree. We've had enough and started a petition "We Deserve Respect From Tauranga City Council".
For the first time - with Nanaia Mahuta's help and compassion - there is a real chance we will all get what we deserve.
• Tiraroa Debra Reweti (Ngāti Ranginui/Ngāi Te Rangi/Te Arawa) is a self-employed writer and company director with more than 30 years experience in mainstream and Māori media. She lives in Tauranga.